Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phillipians 4:8

Daily life

There always seems to be interesting and creative things brewing at our house. This week, Regan came up with the idea to make a hat for a stuffed animal...using one of her socks.

The girls decided it looked like a a sombrero and decided to pull Sage's entire sock drawer and create more sombreros for the rest of their animals. This entertained them for a while, although most of the sock sombreros never found animal heads to occupy. They stayed, as shown here, on the living room floor for three days until Mommy finally requested that they be taken care of. :)

Yesterday at BSF, I helped in Sage's classroom. One of their opening activities was to have themselves traced. The kids could them color themselves as desired. Sage spent quite a bit of time carefully coloring her traced person. She was most proud of the nail polish she put on 'her' fingers.

Not wanting to be left out of the fun, Regan found some paper at home and convinced Sage to lay on the craft table so she could trace her. 

Isn't daily life grand? :D


Last Friday night, my wonderful husband reminded me that it was a fantastic time to get some moon photos. In fact, Saturday and Sunday were a 'Super Moon Perigree' - the closest the moon will be to the earth in 2011. (The last full moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March 1993.)

The skies were perfectly clear Saturday morning, so I crawled out of bed at 5:30 am to head out in the dark about 45 minutes later. I took a short drive to our local state park, thinking the reflection of the moon on Lake Michigan would be stunning.

I was having some technical issues with my camera, so most of my pictures weren't quite what I was hoping for. However, I was struck by this series of photos. As I looked at the color change of the moon and then noted the times, I realized the three photos were taken in less than a minute!

Here are my favorites from the morning.

The Sunday morning moon was supposed to be equally as impressive. I had hoped to go back for a second chance at some great shots. Regan even wanted to get up early with me and see the moon for herself. Alas, the weather did not cooperate, as there was complete cloud coverage in our area Sunday morning.

Bodies Revealed

Paul and I have been wanting to visit the 'Bodies Revealed' Exhibit at our local museum. After two failed attempts to go with another couple, we decided  to head to the Museum today as a family. Our family membership to the museum expires at the end of the month, so we wanted to go and take advantage of that one last time, whether we went into the bodies exhibit or not. When we got to the museum, the girls both surprised me and said they were willing to go into the bodies exhibit!

The exhibit is quite amazing and I highly recommend going to see it, should you ever have the opportunity. (The girls weren't particularly thrilled with it, but they weren't as grossed out by it as they anticipated.)

The girls did enjoy exploring the rest of the museum, seeing a show at the planetarium and riding the carousel...three times. :)

Leprechaun Hunt and Pinewood Derby

After St. Patrick's Day on Thursday, Regan was quite determined to convince her sister that Leprechauns are real. Before school, she planted a red feather (???) on the front porch and told Sage a story about how leprechauns had left it there. Sage was adamant that she did not believe Regan and the leprechauns were not real.

Once Regan was at school, and safely out of earshot, Sage mentioned a couple of times that we should go exploring for clues or signs of Leprechauns. It was a beautiful day outside, so I was pretty much without excuse and we headed out. 

We went for a walk in the woods. Neither of us were quite sure what exactly we were looking for, but had a nice time being outside. :)

Today was Pinewood Derby race day!

Now, if you are especially observant, you will realize this is a different car from my previous post. The first car had an unfortunate epoxy incident that rendered it immobile. Daddy persevered, despite the setback, and produced a second car, from scratch, this week.

Regan, and Daddy, were both pretty excited with an 8th place finish (out of 31 cars). Regan's car took one third, one second and two first place finishes in her four races. And, most important of all, they both had a lot of fun. Daddy came home already talking about plans for next years car. :)

Sage the Author

Today, I thought it would be fun to write a story with Sage and make a book out of it. I didn't have any great ideas to get us started so, I googled 'Story Starters for kids'. The first site up was "Free Illustrated Story Starters from the Young Writers Workshop"

After browsing a few of the choices, Sage picked "Who's in my house" which started with "Someone was in the dog house and it wasn't the dog".

After we finished writing the story, I typed it up and printed it out. We also used Puppy Breath Collection (by Angie Briggs) and Kitty collection (by Marnie Adams), from my scrapbooking supplies, to create and print illustrations for each page. Sage and I cut apart the words and illustrations and glued them to some green (her choice) cardstock to create a finished book.

Rosie Meets Some Cats

Someone's in the dog house and it isn't the dog.
Rosie noticed something different about her doghouse.
Outside of her doghouse she saw a cat.
Rosie tried to slowly sneak up behind the cat to see what it was doing.
As she got closer, she accidentally bumped into her doghouse and scared the cat away.
But, Rosie could still hear strange noises inside the doghouse.
Rosie quietly peeked inside the doghouse and found another cat!
The cat was chewing on Rosie's bone!
The cat does not notice Rosie watching and gets a drink of water.
She also takes a bite of catfood. Catfood!?
Rosie wonders why there is now cat food in her doghouse?
Rosie sneaks into the doghouse and BARKS!
The cat jumps up with wide eyes and claws spread, then runs out of the doghouse.
Rosie is happy to have her house back. 
She finishes her food and her water and her bone...and the cat food too.

It was fun to work through the story lines with her, giving her prompts and seeing what she would come up with. I especially love her details about the cats response to Rosie's bark! I said to her, 'what did the cat do when Rosie barked' and Sage opened her eyes wide and spread out all her fingers and said 'she jumped with wide eyes and paws like this!'. :)

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Art Show

Last night, the girls decided to use some large packaging papers to create an Art Show in the house. They continued to create pieces of art, some with care and some in a hurry, until they ran out of paper and places to hang them. They were so proud and even took Paul and I on a guided tour, explaining each work of art and who the artist was.

Shooting Star by Regan

Zebra Marley by Regan

Moon by Sage

Tree by Regan

Rainbow by Sage

Rainbow by Regan

Climbing Stairs by Sage

Flowers by Regan

 Big Flower by Regan

Big Star by Sage

Swirl by Regan

Colorful Bottles by Regan

Marley's Dog Food by Sage

Rainbow Scribbles by Sage

Shooting Stars by Sage

Thanks for stopping by our Gallery! Come again soon!

Cheerio Bars

When I get a nighttime hankering for something sweet, this recipe just fits the bill! It is something I made up based on a peanut butter/rice krispie treat recipe a couple of years ago. 

Cheerio Bars

Mix in a large bowl:

7 cups plain cheerios
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup peanuts
1 cup plain m&ms

In medium sauce pan, combine:

1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup

Bring to boil for one minute, then stir in 1 cup peanut butter. Pour over cheerio mixture and stir until evenly coated. Press into 9x13 pan. Let cool and enjoy (if you can wait that long!!)

The next day, if they last that long, these can be a bit hard to bite. When that happens, I simply microwave one for 10-15 seconds to soften it up a bit again.

Coin Collecting

Coin collecting seems to be a hobby that is timeless. Regan's friend got her started collecting the state quarters a couple months ago. We ordered a map/coin holder for her and her friend to store their collections in. It's been fun to investigate each quarter that crosses our paths and try to guess if it's one Regan has yet or not.

Skillet Meal

Some time ago, a friend of mine taught me to make a simple side dish that my family loves. You peel and cube sweet potatoes and saute them in olive oil along with some diced onions. Once cooked, sprinkle with cheddar cheese and let it melt before serving. Our whole family enjoys this side dish, including my non-sweet potato-eating husband. There was a period of about a year when Regan would tell you her favorite meal was sweet potatoes and venison. 

Sometimes, I like to turn this side dish into a simple skillet meal by adding some sliced sausage. Tonight, I used skinless Turkey Smoked Sausage. Another favorite of Paul and I's (not the girls so much) is the Spinach Asiago Chicken Sausage available at Sam's Club.

I haven't had much luck doing the sausage and potatoes in one pan, as one or the other seems to always get overcooked. So, I do them in separate pans, then combine before adding the cheese on top.
Bon Appetite!

Beautiful Bottles

My normal trip into Hobby Lobby involves making a straight dash to the back of the store to find some sort of craft supplies for the girls. This usually suits me just fine, as I am not really drawn to the home decor stuff. I appreciate it, am inspired by it and enjoy looking at it, but rarely see something as a 'must have' for my own home. 

When I passed these colored bottles a couple of weeks ago, they just seemed to shout 'HAPPY'! I thought they were so fun and bright and cheery. I knew they would eventually go on sale and if I found a suitable purpose for them, figured I would buy some then. 

This week, I had an idea to use them for a new 'reward' system that has been much needed in our home. I checked the online add, and sure enough they were on sale this week! So, Sage and I headed over and picked up 15 of them in various sizes and colors.

The reward system works like this. The bottles are lined up in one long row on our dining room table. In the center, the largest bottle/vase. On each side, seven various size smaller bottles.

The bottles on one side are Sage's and on the other are Regan's. (There was a whole lot of exchanging and bartering going on yesterday before they were arranged in their final manner! I guess the girls like the pretty bottles as much as mommy does!)

Each bottle represents a day of the week. In each bottle are crystals, each representing 5 minutes of Ipad time. (The girls are highly motivated by the new family toy). Weekdays have 30 minutes total, weekends 60 minutes.

If the girls are caught doing something good or do some extra chores, they can earn extra crystals. If they make bad choices or are disrespectful, they lose crystals. 

Just like any of our systems, I am sure this one will have it's season of effectiveness. Until then, I will enjoy the beautiful bottles that adorn my dining room table. They sure beat the recycled peanut butter jars we have used in the past!!


Days like this, I look out the window and see wet, dreary, sloppy, muddy, mess. 

The girls look out the window and see opportunity!! They love to put on their rainboots and haul out the umbrellas and slosh around.

Secret Hide-away

The girls discovered over the weekend that the space below our winding staircase makes a very fun secret hideaway.

First, they realized a baby gate provided a great way to be sure Marley was part of the secret place and couldn't escape.

Then, they set out to make the space a bit more comfy and decorated to their liking.

I helped them clean out some odds and ends that were behind the TV hutch. This made way for a small 'living room' that is now complete with a rug on the floor, a box filled with miscellaneous toys and the girls CD player.

The girls have spent most of their free time the last two days hanging out in their secret spot. They were thrilled to be able to eat their dinner in there tonight, while listening to Ramona the Pest on CD.

I love to see their imaginations at work!

Pinewood Derby - Part 1

When we found out that the local Girl Scouts were doing their first ever Pinewood Derby, Paul and Regan were both pretty excited to participate!

This weekend began the work of getting the car ready.

As Regan and I looked for car ideas online, I asked her if she wanted a fast car or a fancy car. In true VanderWall form, she immediately said FAST!. Music to Daddy's ears. :)

Stay tuned until later in March to hear how this green hot rod performs on the track!

Raising Readers

We are very blessed to have two kids who absolutely love books! We are also very blessed to have a wonderful local library to support my oldest's reading habits! :)

Vacation Momentos

Early this week, we were blessed to take a mini family vacation to Great Wolf Lodge. Regan had Monday and Tuesday off school, so we headed up Sunday Morning and returned Tuesday evening.

Much to Paul's surprise, I purposely left my camera at home. I had minor concerns about where to leave the camera when it wasn't in use and preventing it from getting wet at the water park. But mostly, I was concerned about getting too caught up in 'capturing' the moments instead of enJOYing the moments. 

I did have my cell phone with me and took some photos with it. Now, I just need to figure out how to get them off the phone and onto the computer! LOL! 

I took this picture today of some of the girls souvenirs from the trip. I'm sure this, along with the cell phone photos and some meaningful journaling, will still allow me to document our trip on a future scrapbook page.

The girls were trying to figure out how to pool their money, a total of $40, to buy a wand and play the MagicQuest game they have at the hotel. We came to an agreement that if they both contributed all of their money, we would pay the rest for them each to get a  'Paw Pass'. With the pass, the girls were each able to get a wand and play the game (which was tons of fun!), make an animal (build-a-bear style), have 20 tokens to the arcade, paint a pillowcase or t-shirt (they both chose pillow cases), get a glitter tattoo and have Chipstix snack from the snackbar. It turned out great and gave us lots of things to do for our three day/two night stay there.

It was a great time getting away with the girls, sans diapers and pull-ups and pack and plays and life-jackets and all the stuff that goes along with little tikes.

New Toy


The girls enjoying the new family toy. :)

Marley and Me

By Regan VanderWall